Skip to comments.Why Do Dogs Bark? It's Still Mostly a Mystery.
Posted on 04/24/2014 4:35:17 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
Whether a woof, ruff, yip, or yap, dogs bark dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. Imagine if every pet canine in the U.S. -- all 83.3 million of them -- congregated. The chorus would be a postal worker's nightmare.
Dogs sound off in almost any situation. Maybe the doorbell rang, or a stranger approached, or a bird fluttered nearby. Even with little to no obvious stimulation, dogs can bark incessantly. Behaviorist and biologist Raymond Coppinger once observed a dog that barked for seven hours straight, even though no other canines were within miles.
Because dogs bark repetitively and in varying contexts, for decades, a hefty chunk of scientists argued that these sounds served no specific purpose. Coppinger, for example, put forth the notion that barking relieves arousal, and merely indicates an emotional state. At the turn of the century, however, these views started to evaporate. A key clue came in 2002. UC-Davis animal scientist Sophia Yin recorded the barks of different breeds of dogs at play, when the doorbell rang, or in isolation. She found that bark frequency and duration differed significantly between the situations.
"The fact that barks were context specific... strongly suggests that barks serve specific functions," she reasoned.
For all the barking the dogs do, their closest relatives, wolves, rarely bark at all. As little as 2.3% of their vocalizations are barks; the rest are almost entirely howls. Moreover, wolves bark only in warning, defense, and protest. Even though 30,000 years of evolution separate the two species, many breeds of dogs look quite similar to their lupine cousins. But the sounds they make are easily discernible.
Taking note of this contrast, Hungarian ethologist Csaba Molnar forayed into the barking discussion, postulating that the bark came to prominence through the process of domestication, in essence, as a way to communicate with humans.
In 2005, Molnar presented evidence to back his assertion. Molnar had 36 subjects listen to a variety of barks from a breed called mudis. The barks were recorded during different situations: when the mudis encountered a stranger, acted aggressively, were prompted to go on a walk, begged for a ball, played, or were left alone. Regardless of whether or not the subjects were dog owners, they were able to guess the situations in which the barks were recorded at levels significantly higher than chance when presented with the choices.
Further evidence backing Molnar's theory came courtesy of Dmitry Belyaev's domestication experiments on silver foxes. For years, researchers selected the most docile foxes that showed the least fear of humans and bred them. Over the generations, the foxes began to sport characteristics like spotted coats, floppy ears, and curled tails. They also began barking a lot more, specifically when they saw people!
It might be presumptuous to think that barking evolved on our account, but right now, it's the most plausible explanation we have!
Because it would be silly if they mooed.
I have a neighbor who lives around a quarter of a mile away, maybe just a little further than that. They have a dog that barks at anything and everything.
It is so sensitive that it will often bark when I just go outside. I am not sure if it hears me or picks up my scent. I can’t hear it when I am inside so it is not that big of a problem but if I lived really close I would think about doggycide.
I’m still wondering why moonbats bark.
Meowing would not make much sense either.
Only a scientist could not figure out why dogs are barking in a given situation.
To warn off intruders into their territory, to get attention such as to be released from a leash or let out of an enclosure, for food, when a pack is running together so they can stay together and make themselves known to each other, to threaten, to greet people or other visitors.
I’m sure I left some out.
I’ve noticed that my dog has different barks for different situations! All of which are designed for me to do something for her! I love her lots!
You got that right. The house behind us - two frikken yappy dogs all day long. Owner gone, owner home, doesn’t matter. (BTW - it is the OWNER that is undisciplined. Probably thinks it is cute?)
Our dog didn’t bark at all when we brought him home as a rescue puppy (large dog). Had to train him to bark a few times when people came to the door to 1) let me know as I can’t always hear the doorbell, and 2) to warn strangers away.
He still will sit quietly in the backyard with the yappy dogs on the other side of the fence and wonder what the heck they are yapping about.
Much like learning the communications with an infant.
Because they can.
20th Century foxes or 21st Century foxes?
Dog size is strongly correlated with yapping (assuming similar dog-human socialization).
In the case of my Ranger, the answer is clearly: catz.
How can you pick out a dogwood?
By its bark.
I had a male Golden Retriever, 110lbs with no fat.
This guy barked, literally, maybe 3 or 4 times in his life.
He was the sweetest most loving dog I’ve ever owned.
When he did bark, it wasn’t some “RUFF RUFF RUFF” going on and on. The first time, it was a really slow and really deep RUUUUUUFFFFFF, that took time to build into a final RUUFF.
It was soo funny, because he actually scared himself.
He wasn’t a very smart dog, I admit.
Which brings up the question:
Why do dogs lick you in the face?
It gets that butt taste out of its mouth.
Ours went stone deaf and I have not heard her bark in probably a year.